I am the creator of this website and Instagram page. This started as a senior project and turned into something that I will take with me as I advance my career. Since I graduate in one week, I felt it was time to share my story about how I ended up in the golf industry. It was not something I ever expected, but it is something I wake up every day feeling thankful for, despite the challenges I overcame along the way.
Here is my story:
What is you current position in the golf industry?
Right now, I am the First Assistant at Manchester Country Club in Bedford, New Hampshire. I was offered the job in January of 2019 and I was still in school at the time. So, I got back to New Hampshire in June and worked there until January when I went back to school again to finish my degree at Seattle University. As of March 15, I will have officially graduated from school and I will actually be on a plane to Florida to attend my Level 2 PGA seminar. After that, I will be heading back to work on April 1 and I'm really excited for the season.
When did you first get introduced to golf?
I got introduced to golf when I was probably six or seven. There's a picture of me in my childhood yard of New Hampshire with my brand new US Kids Golf lefty set, which was hard to come by. I was also wearing the hat that it came with and it's like a totally staged picture in the front yard. And then I also have a picture of myself in the back yard where my dad basically made a driving range. He put a mat into the ground and put a flag like 100 yards away, probably actually less, like sixty yards away, but it seemed a lot farther back then when you're six and seven.
So yeah, I would just hit balls in the back yard for fun. I remember we had this big field in our back yard where the grass would end and it would turn into this massive open space. I remember hitting my driver out there and then we'd have to go pick them up and we probably lost like hundreds of golf balls, but I didn't care.
I had a very love-hate relationship with golf all through my life. I was a really big athlete. I played every sport possible really from the time I could walk. And I'm pretty sure when I started walking, I was actually running. There's a picture of me when I was maybe only a year or so old dribbling a soccer ball and that became the main sport in my life. I also played basketball, baseball, and once I hit middle school, I joined softball, I did cross country and was loving basketball and volleyball, all while travel soccer remained the big one. I would go to school in the morning, go to volleyball practice after school, leave fifteen minutes early to go to soccer practice thirty minutes away, leave there, grab McDonald's and go to basketball practice that went until 9:00PM and somehow still have time for homework and enough energy to wake up and do it all over again.
And then golf was just something I did. My dad signed me up for tournaments and I never really played that great. It was more fun when I was younger but as I got more competitive and better in my other sports, not playing well was really hard on me. So, I really didn't like it that much compared to my other sports. It was hard because I felt like I was good at every other sport and it came easy to me while golf was something that I felt like I was trying so hard to do but could never succeed, and it was so frustrating to me.
And I shouldn't say I hated it. I loved playing for fun with my dad and his friends. The part that was frustrating was the tournaments and feeling like I was unable to compete. But I always enjoyed playing the game itself.
But then, first of all, I should mention I moved to California when I was about seven and lived there until my sophomore year of college. I was playing soccer literally year-round in California and to no surprise, like a lot of girls, I tore my ACL and basically just wrecked my whole knee. Yeah, ACL, MCL, and meniscus when I was only 14. It was actually within the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school when it happened so I didn't get to go to soccer tryouts and didn't even get to go to golf tryouts. I actually planned on playing golf in high school and didn't get to do that my freshman year. I remember being absolutely devastated when I got the results, so that was very difficult to go through, to say the least. However, it helped me develop my motto of "stay positive."
So, I knew I couldn't play golf or soccer my freshman year but I really wanted to get my varsity letter. That was something I knew for sure I would have gotten with soccer and was hoping I would get for golf as well. Therefore, I actually ended up running track. I had surgery at the end of September of 2012 and track season started at the end of February or early March. Once I recovered and I was able to run after three months, I started training.
I became an 800 runner, which, if you've ran track, you know is probably one of the most miserable races possible. I remember before my first 800 race my coach, who now coaches at UCLA, she goes, "You're going to run the first lap as fast as you can, then you're going to run the next lap faster," and I was like, "Sweet." I also did high jump, which is something I never expected. So, that was really, really fun. I ended up lettering, which was really cool. I won some races and I got to just have fun with a new community and ultimately reach my goal.
After that, I finished my freshman year of high school and I was almost at that 10 month recovery mark that summer. I was like, "Sweet, I can get back to soccer" so that's what I did. But, in some horrible twist of fate, my first day back to playing in a game of competitive soccer ended when I tore my ACL again in the same knee. I remember running after a ball and suddenly being on the ground. I walked off the field because I didn't want to alarm anyone and that was the last time I would ever walk off a soccer field.
That was kind of my wake up call. There was definitely a very clear sign saying, "You need to stop playing soccer and do something else." Obviously, the athlete in me was crushed. But I realized I had one outlet that I could go to and that outlet was golf. I actually decided to forego surgery for a good six months just so I could play high school golf at the beginning of my sophomore year.
So, I went in my sophomore year never having played on a golf team before. I went to some golf camps, I played in individual tournaments, but I'd never played on a team. I really had no expectations for myself whatsoever. I knew I could hit the ball, I knew I could play golf, I knew the rules. The athlete in me could physically make the ball move down the fairway and I could hit it pretty far, which was cool, but it didn't always go straight. Immediately, I was like number two, number three on the team, depending on our qualifying and I actually ended up setting the school record. I shot a two-under 34 for nine holes, which was ridiculous because I still had very little expectations for myself. But that was when I was like, "Okay, I'm going to go play college golf."
However, it was hard because you can do really well in high school and if you've played in high school, you know, we play from the forward tees. And really, college coaches don't care about those scores. So, I did my best to play in more tournaments, take lessons, send in videos and just try to get recruited. And it was really hard because I always struggled in big tournaments. Again, despite having other sports come easy to me and always just feeling like I was the best at something, golf was something where I never felt that way. I was at the bottom of more leaderboards than I can name and I really didn't do well in a single tournament until maybe the end of my senior year after I'd already been recruited.
I was fortunate in the fact that I had three different schools really looking at me and basically seeing the potential I had. They were Division I, Division II, and Division III and were all small private schools with very good golf programs. I ended up choosing the one that was farthest away from home and in a place that I never thought I'd want to live. I never thought I'd want to live in an urban environment but I ended up choosing Seattle University because I really fell in love with the school. One of the pieces of advice from another coach, Gary Nelson, from Dominican University, was that he always told me that you want to pick a school that, without golf, is still your home. Seattle University felt like that for me. And here I am four years later about to graduate.
Describe your college golf experience.
So, it's a difficult story and one I have never been able to find the right words to explain. It could be explained in a novel, but I will do my best to explain it briefly, for my own sake. I had no idea that I wanted to go into the golf industry and the way I ended up in the golf industry was by leaving the golf program at Seattle University. Basically, my freshman and sophomore year, I ended up just facing a really toxic environment. Not from the team standpoint at all, my teammates were great, the men's team was great too, but from the coaching standpoint. We had one coach for two separate teams and this person just basically made it their life goal to break me down as a person and make me feel like everything I was doing was wrong.
I came into college with the attitude that, "This is the coolest opportunity ever. I'm going to get to improve and I'm going to be so good my junior and senior year," and that's what I was told repeatedly by this coach. And I worked my ass off to make that vision a reality. I did even get to play as the only freshman on a team with four seniors. I played in a couple tournaments and I actually shot my final round even par in our very first tournament so I was like, "Wow, I can do this."
My swing was a bit wild back then and I worked so hard that summer to get my swing more consistent and it looked so different by the end of the summer. I came in my sophomore year and started stringing together rounds that were actually good. The first tournament at Palouse Ridge had the worst weather conditions humanly possible. I remember when we started it was 43 degrees with a wind chill near freezing. The wind was gusting like 30 miles per hour and it hailed at one point. The rain was blowing sideways and here we are having to play 36 holes. I shot a 75 the first round, second round I was -1 through 11 and the weather got even worse and a few bad holes later I'm +9.
But the next day the weather conditions were somehow even worse. My final approach shot of the day was a 105 yard shot into the wind. I hit a stinger 5 iron and came up short, but got up and down for par and had to walk away laughing. I ended up shooting a 74 which was one of the best scores of the day. So that tournament just proved to myself that I had improved so much over the past several months after working so hard over the summer.
Before this, I was averaging 81 every round. A lot of college golfers had plateaued at this point but I was so far from my potential and I knew I could get better. I was at 70% fairway percentage, which is insane, and I was getting up and down over 50% of the time.
Anyway, my coach, despite all these statistics, repeatedly would ask me how terrible I was doing this year. He would say my swing needed work constantly and that I'd never be able to perform well. This started a really long and unfortunate journey of just being like, verbally attacked on a daily basis whether it was over text, over Groupme with the whole team, over email, in person, the list goes on. No matter what I did, or what I said, it was wrong. And he made sure that I knew that. I don't know what can go through someone's mind to see someone and just constantly want to break them down, but that's what happened. He tried to isolate me from my family and my friends and I was trapped in this abusive relationship.
Long story short, my golf game kind of plummeted. All of my self-confidence was gone. I dropped into a state of depression where basically I put myself on autopilot every day and just tried to get through it and I did everything I possibly could to mend this relationship, because I was falling into his trap of viewing everything as my fault. I was just so tired of being attacked for everything I did. And at this time, I was mentoring five new freshmen. So, I was in this position trying to be a leader while I'm constantly being broken down and told I shouldn't be one.
One day, after a particularly rough experience, I just had this moment of clarity where I was like, "How could you ever let someone make you feel this way? You are a strong-willed person and your motto in life is to stay positive, and you are letting someone break you down?" And at that point, the only thing I could do is get myself out of the situation. So, I actually FaceTimed my parents from my car and I told them, "I can't do this anymore." I don't even remember what that conversation was, but I was at a loss for what my options were and I was thinking, "This is my home, my team is my family, I want to be a college athlete, but I think it's going to kill me."
So, that same day I called someone who I trusted in the athletic department and I told them, "Hey, I need to leave this team, and I never want to speak to or see this person ever again." And that's what happened. I was hoping that by leaving and sharing my story that the same thing would not happen to anyone on my team or anyone ever again, because that type of coaching is abhorrent and egregious, and no one who does what this coach did should ever be allowed to coach ever again. But ultimately, the athletic department did nothing.
However, I always believe that everything happens for a reason. I left the program the beginning of April and before I went back home in June, I contacted Stanford to work as a counselor at their summer golf camps because I'd done that the year prior. I had also attended the camp for two years, so it was a really special place for me in terms of fostering a positive golf environment, so that was something to look forward to in June.
Then, right before I left, I was also offered a job at a golf course in Seattle. I got an email from the Director of Golf at Sand Point Country Club, and he asked me if I would be willing to work during the summer as an assistant if I happened to be staying here. Since my family had just moved back to New Hampshire, I had plans to be home for the summer and see extended family so I responded and thanked him for the offer. I honestly thought it was so cool. I was thinking, "Why would he want me?" But then I was like, "Oh, wait a minute, why don't you try to get a job at a golf course in New Hampshire?" So, that sparked this idea because if I didn't have to practice for six hours a day for college golf, why don't I make some money and work in something I like?
So, on a complete whim, I sent emails to three different courses in the Manchester, New Hampshire area and one course responded. It was Manchester Country Club and the General Manager actually reached out to me and said he went to the high school that is maybe four blocks from my college campus. I ended up talking to Brian Moskevich, who was the First Assistant at the time, and we scheduled a time to meet. I went in to meet him and before I knew it, I was hired. I started working there in July as just a shop assistant at the time.
I really, really kind of fell in love with the job because it's such a quirky and fast-paced industry, especially at a private course, and I would always come home with stories for my parents. Anyway, at the end of the summer, I was actually going abroad to Spain that next quarter of school. I was going to be gone from October to December and then go back to Seattle from January to June and finish up my junior year. But Brian approached me before I left and I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like, "Have you ever considered going into the golf industry?" And I told him I really hadn't. At this time, I was also hesitant to tell anyone about my college golf experience. But he said, "Well, you should because you're really good at it." And I was thinking like, "Alright, you're crazy. But yeah, sure." That single conversation is what planted that seed in my head that maybe this industry is something I could go into.
Regardless of my future aspirations, the next summer after my junior year I wanted to come back and work at Manchester again. After I came back from Spain, I worked for two weeks in December and that's also when Brian was actually promoted to Head Pro and we got a new Director of Golf, Jeff May.
This is also when I told Brian that I would be graduating two quarters early and would like to work at MCC from June to December of 2019. So, I left and went back to Seattle in January and a couple weeks later I get a call from Jeff, and long story short, I was offered the First Assistant job. The whole thing was really surreal. I called my parents and was like, "I'm going to be a golf pro!"
I had never thought I'd go into the golf industry. But after that phone call, I absolutely accepted this path with open arms. I was just so excited and incredibly thankful for the opportunity. And I also have to say how thankful I am for both Brian and Jeff. For Brian because working in the golf industry that summer after I left my team was really hard, especially coming from the abuse I faced from someone I was supposed to trust. But Brian was a really awesome person to work under and learn from in those three months and being in that environment helped me learn how to love golf again. And for Jeff because he came in and he's not afraid to have important and sometimes difficult conversations with people. He is someone that cares about his employees more than any of us will ever know. He challenges me, tells me what to work on, and gives me the tools to be the best pro I can be.
I'm just really thankful to have people that just care so much about my success, who I am as a person, and who are part of my journey in the golf industry. It's really cool to have people that you both enjoy working with and enjoy being around when you're away from work. And I think that's something really, really special that has been created at our course.
What is the most rewarding part of you job?
I'll be honest, I love waking up every day and going to work. I have like a 20 minute drive and there's no part of that drive that has dread in it. Even when I'm opening, I love waking up at 4:30AM, especially in the summer when the sun's coming out, and it's so fun to just show up to work, unlock that door, turn the lights on, get the computer fired up and just wait for everyone to come into the pro shop for their tee times. It might sound weird, but I love it, I love every part of it.
I think a common answer in a lot of interviews has been how much we love the people, and I have to totally agree. I have had the opportunity and privilege to play with so many of our members, both men, women, and even juniors, and there are so many people that are willing to go out of their way to say they appreciate you and that they support you, and that's so special to me.
I'm just a 22 year old who kind of fell into this position and I am working really hard to be the best I can be at it, and I get to meet all of these great people that will come in and ask for golf lessons or ask for advice or want to play with me and it makes me feel like this is my home.
I also like playing with members because it helps me show like, "Hey, I am one of the pros." It was hard the first couple weeks that I was in this new role as First Assistant, because people would come to the pro shop and ask me, "Are one of the pros here?" or "Hey, is there someone in the back that could put my grips on?" and I'm like, "No, she's standing right here. She can put your grips on." But those are things that you just have to roll with, like Martha Wells said, water off a duck's back.
But playing with members is great because our first tee actually backs up right to the patio and on a busy day or afternoon I might have the opportunity to go play and basically, everyone on that patio will see me hitting from the back tees, or whatever tees the members want to play from. I just like having the opportunity to show that women can be in these leadership positions and break some of those stereotypes that people might have.
Getting the opportunity to grow the game of golf for people is an incredible feeling. I've always loved coaching juniors but have really enjoyed getting the opportunity to teach adults as well. I love showing people that they are capable of doing things they thought they couldn't do.
What are some challenges you face in the industry?
It can be a hard industry to work in because of long hours and it can be hard to balance your time. Luckily, in the winters of New Hampshire, we certainly get a change of pace while the summers are just go, go, go. I'm fortunate because I live at home for now and don't have children of my own, but I know when that stage of my life comes along, things will look a lot different and balancing time will face entirely new obstacles. But in terms of how busy you can be during the season, it can get overwhelming and there's always that possibility to get burnt out. But that kind of goes back to the importance of having an awesome team around you. At the end of the day, sure, there are challenges. Every industry has different challenges. But how can I ever complain about looking out the window and seeing a golf course?
Do you feel your experience as a woman differs from that of a man in the same position?
There's a yes and a no answer to this. I'd say yes, just because of the the perception from patrons at a golf course occasionally. There is this weird barrier that, "Oh, there's a woman working behind the counter, she's a shop girl, she's not a pro." Whereas you see a man dressed in golf clothes behind the counter and you automatically think they're a pro. So, I think the main difference is having to fight that perception and have those conversations where you say, "No, I am a pro."
I'd also say no because, especially where I am, I am treated exactly the same as my male counterparts, for the most part from the members but definitely from my bosses, which I really, really appreciate. I think that's something that's really important and something that fosters an environment of inclusivity and positive growth.
Like Sara Dickson said, I do not want to be known as "the female pro," I just want to be known as a pro. And I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure I can be the best pro I can possibly be, regardless of background or gender.
How do you think the golf industry benefits from having women in leadership positions?
I interviewed Anne Walker, the head coach for Stanford Women's Golf, and she said, "Seeing is believing." And although the idea of "seeing is believing" is not necessarily factual, it is really, really important to see women in these leadership positions. When I was a junior golfer, I walked into hundreds and hundreds of golf shops and I can't recall a single time I ever saw a woman pro there or a woman teaching on the range. Automatically, I never thought that this was something I could do, in fact, the idea never even crossed my mind.
I was actually the first female pro hired at Manchester Country Club in its 96-year history. Our local TV station did a brief story on this and I just think it's cool that now some young girl might see me and realize she could do that too.
Just showing young girls that we do exist and that this is a career option for them is an important step to getting more women in the industry. I also think women bring different perspectives. And I think they might have different strengths to highlight. I think they have a really, really good way of connecting with other women, and also encouraging more women to play. If you've never done something before, something that can ease your anxiety is having someone there that can relate to you.
However, regardless of gender, golf professionals can create an environment for people to feel welcome. If I did not have the male coaches and teachers in my life that gave me the confidence to push myself, my life might look very different. I also appreciate the fact that although I was the youngest sibling and the only girl, my dad was a total #GirlDad and pushed me to compete in all aspects of life, from sports, to speech competitions, to becoming an adult and professional.
How do you think we can get more women working in the golf industry?
I think there are a ton of ways to do it. I know our initiatives for junior golf are amazing. Just getting more junior girls playing will eventually get more women to be in those leadership positions as girls grow up. But I also think it requires more active recruitment. For example, I was a college golfer and I knew I wasn't going pro. But if someone still loves golf, what are the options for them? Right now, most people only know they can go play professionally, or they can go work in a golf shop, and not everyone wants to go work in a golf shop. But there are so many career opportunities in the golf industry.
You can work in the executive business side, you can do tournament operations, you can work for Top Golf, you can work for PGA Magazine. There's so many things you can do that we're not emphasizing. I personally would love to see the PGA or local PGA professionals going to women's college teams or even local high school teams and doing just a short presentation or even just passing out a pamphlet that says, "Hey, I know you play golf. How about we make a career out of it? Here's the PGM program. Here are scholarships available. And here are all the career options that you can have once you get your Class A." It's just about getting the word out. I mean, if people don't know it exists, then people aren't going to do it.
On this website, there is a tab about getting more women in the industry, check it out here.
What are your future aspirations in the golf industry?
I will be honest and say I have no idea exactly what I want to do. Shawn Farmer gave me some good advice during her interview saying, "Focus on living in the present." So, that's exactly what I'm doing right now as I head back to work very soon, which I'm very excited about. This summer, I'm focusing on how I can improve myself, improve the golf operations, improve membership satisfaction, and ultimately just keep learning. If I had to have a goal, I mean, obviously I'd love to be a Head Professional somewhere. But also, I love tournament operations so I'd love to run tournaments for the PGA or other golf organizations. I'd also be open to working at or running a player development school.
But right now, for my future aspirations, I would love to be completing Level 3 of the PGM program by the end of 2020. I'm going to my Level 2 seminar a week from today and if all goes well with the portfolio and the test, I definitely see this as an attainable goal. I always like to push myself, sometimes maybe a little too hard, but that's something I have my sights set on and I know with the support around me that it's absolutely attainable. For now, I'm just going to go about being the best pro that I can be, learn as much as possible, network, gain experience, and also continue Golfhers.
If you had any words of inspiration or advice for young women beginning their career in the golf industry, what would it be?
Never underestimate your value that you bring to a course. Also, always stay true to yourself. If you feel like you're changing who you innately are to fit an environment, it's probably not the right environment for you. And it's okay to recognize that you might not fit in a place and to move on.